Unilever

Unilever Plant Gains Its Independence with Flexible, Automated Switch Solution


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“This solution has already proven its worth. It’s so easy to use—after programming the PLC, we could convey all types of product with a simple push of a button.”

Background
The Unilever plant in Gloucester, UK, recently installed facilities to produce Magnum ice cream minis and multipacks.

Challenge
The new line would need to accomplish the following:

  • Convey four new Magnum product formats: packages containing three, four, six, or eight Magnums
  • Switch the standard Magnum to one of two shrink-wrapping machines
  • Convey mini Magnums to the flow packing machine

Solution
The plant had previously planned to install a pneumatic activated side guide. However, it quickly became clear that this switch/divert technology would not be able to reach the speed that was needed on the new line. Additionally, the plant realized it would need to stop and make a manual adjustment to the diverter any time a package size or format change was required, increasing the risk of product jams.

Although the plans for the new line were already in place, Intralox answered the plant’s request to bid on the project in a very short timeline. Whatever solution Intralox proposed would need to fit within the footprint already designated for the alternative technology.

Intralox engineers used physics-based simulation software to emulate the Unilever product running on the ARB Switch. The simulation video reassured Unilever that the ARB Switch could easily convey small products at high speeds within the allotted footprint, and made it possible to see what the final line layout would look like.

Results
The Gloucester plant reports being very satisfied with its 1 to 3 ARB Switch. “This solution has already proven its worth. It’s so easy to use—after programming the PLC, we could convey all types of product with a simple push of a button,” said Project Engineer Daniel Musto.

The solution has been virtually trouble-free: the plant has experienced very few jams and is no longer required to make manual adjustments when conveying a different package size.

Company:

Unilever

Application:

High-speed switching/diverting of small products

Challenge:

Implement a flexible, high-speed switch/divert solution

Result:

Virtually trouble-free switching of small and varied products